Forest and parks departments to be merged in a year
It will take about one year to combine the Royal Forest Department and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation."After the Cabinet approves the merging, we will have to propose the [relevant] law to Parliament," Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said yesterday.
He said the law would define the duties and authority of the new department.
"The two departments should [become one] because the scope of their duties is overlapping. With the merging, the work process will be streamlined," he said.
Nakhon Ratchasima Governor Chuan Sirinanporn yesterday attacked the Royal Forest Department's Suwit Rattamanee for giving news reports that might mislead people into believing Chuan was slow to act against forest encroachers.
"I am waiting to get confirmation from the Royal Forest Department that those properties have indeed been built on forest reserves before taking any further action," Chuan said, "Besides, if the Royal Forest Department is so sure of the evidence against the alleged encroachers, it has all the power to take action on its own. It does not need to wait for me to sign any paper," Chuan said.
The governor said he had already called Suwit to ask why he gave a misleading interview.
"But he told me the media had misinterpreted his words," Chuan said.
The Royal Forest Department has been pursuing 32 cases against people who have allegedly built resorts and vacation homes on forest reserves. According to some reports, Suwit has blamed Chuan for not signing the orders to inform the alleged encroachers that they must dismantle the properties.
"That's not true," Chuan said.